With a beaming smile, Roberto Martinez greeted the media last Wednesday and spoke of his ambitious plans for Everton Football Club.
His reputation as an optimistic, infectious and forward-thinking manager was undeniably evident as he revealed his delight at being handed the opportunity to lead the Toffees into an exciting new era.
From the way in which the Spaniard delivered his vision for the future, it was clear to see why the 39-year-old had proved so popular with the fans of his previous club Wigan Athletic.
Paul Kendrick, correspondent for the Wigan Observer and Evening Post, had followed the Latics up and down the country, reporting on the club’s fortunes throughout Martinez’s tenure at the DW Stadium.
Over the past four years, he forged a close working relationship with the Spaniard and gained an understanding into Martinez’s way of thinking and his footballing philosophy.
Speaking to evertonfc.com, Kendrick offers an insight into what Blues fans can expect from the new boss and the character lying behind the manager.
Paul, having got to know Roberto very well, how would you describe his personality?
He has obviously got a great reputation from what people have seen of him on the television, but off the camera it was exactly the same. He didn’t dodge any questions and nothing was ever too much for him. If we missed press conferences for whatever reason or we needed some extra information, he would be happy to arrange something at a time that suited us. From a press point of view, he could not have done any more and he was a dream to work alongside.
Things might not have gone Wigan’s way on a weekend but Roberto would always come in on a Monday morning and within 10 minutes he would have you believe that the team could break into the top half. He would go through why the previous match turned out like it did and the glass was always half full.
That can have a big influence on the dressing room because when you have got a manager who is constantly telling you how good you are, it keeps the players and fans going. He was probably responsible for the feel-good factor that led to Wigan lifting the FA Cup last season.
Is he a manager who lives and breathes football?
Absolutely. I can’t think of anyone who fits that description more. When asked how he would unwind on international breaks and in the summer, his honest reply would be that he just watches more football. That’s how he relaxes – he watches games from all corners of the globe. He doesn’t just treat football as his job, it’s his life. He is a student of the game, a real football man and I think he is a perfect fit for Everton.
You look at other clubs he could have gone to and I think Everton is a really good fit for him. It’s the next step in his development and it will be interesting to see how he goes. But I am very confident that he will continue that progression and do a really good job for Everton.
Would you describe him as a forward thinking, modern manager?
He is light years ahead of most modern day managers. When the tape recorders have finished and you are chatting about football with the staff, he would go into great detail about how and why such a team was playing well or explaining why another team was struggling. You get a little insight into his way of thinking. He is not one of these managers who will just see the performance and come to quick conclusions.
No stone is unturned and he knows everything about almost every player. We would throw names at him of players who had been linked with Wigan – even teenager players from foreign countries – and he would be able to go through their biography and tell you what school he had been to or his favourite meal. Roberto has a fantastic football brain and I’m sure Everton fans will get know him and appreciate him like Wigan supporters have done.
Have you any interesting anecdotes from working alongside him for four years?
There is one occasion from three years ago that springs to mind. Wigan signed Argentinian striker Mauro Boselli and he scored two goals on his debut in a pre-season friendly at Dundee United. He is a very nice chap but unfortunately spoke no English. Understandably we were desperate to get the first words from the club record signing. Roberto was in a rush to get back on the coach back to Wigan but he could see that we were struggling. He came over and said ‘would you like me to translate for you?’ It was bizarre how our translator for the day was a Premier League manager.
I can’t think of any other manager who would go out of their way to help us like he did. But Roberto, from my experience, is all about the club and the relationship between them, the fans and the media.
Looking at his style of football, having covered Wigan week in and week out, what would you say about the way Martinez likes to set up his teams?
He is very idealistic. He loves his teams to keep and respect the ball. Things didn’t always go according to plan and I know Roberto has mentioned it in the past, but injuries killed Wigan last year. You saw in the FA Cup run – and the game at Goodison – that if that team had been fully fit for most of the season, I’m sure they would have been pushing for top half rather than struggling near the bottom.
It was a very good team, well set up, with great ball players that didn’t get the rewards they deserved. Roberto never moved away from his principles though. He wouldn’t resort to lumping it long and trying to get a lucky goal.
Are Wigan Athletic fans sad to see him go?
Absolutely. He was a big favourite here and a legend from his playing days. He was a fantastically popular appointment and that relationship only got better. You would be hard pushed to find any Wigan fan that didn’t want him to carry on as manager and having delivered the FA Cup he will go down in folklore.
What legacy has Martinez left at Wigan Athletic?
It’s about two feet high and made of solid silver. The FA Cup win is going to live in the town for generations and fans will all be telling our grandchildren about the day they watched their hometown team win the cup. He is the first manager to bring a major trophy to the club and you can’t really have a greater legacy than that. He won’t be forgotten.